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Posts Tagged ‘Ajantha’

Today, we are going to see some unconnected icons. But before that, a long pending paintings inspired by sculpture - aka temple. Not any temple but The Kailasantha Temple in Kanchipuram.

sketch

Rendered by Mr B. Sathish !

There are some icons ( and people) who have a magical allure to them and we could Photogenic but not sure if it applies to architecture, but the creations of Rajasimha - be it the Shore temple, the Panamalai Thaalagireershwarar or the Kanchi Kailasantha, they turn even amateur photographers raving mad. So imagine the plight of experts. Take a look at this work of Aadhi arts.

aadhi2 (3)
aadhi2 (4)
aadhi2
aadhi2 (1)
aadhi2 (2)

Really stunning are they not?

Now take a look at these.

Bodisattva
notice+the+claws+feet
look+to+your+right

Seemingly disconnected icons - The famous Bodhisattva mural from Ajanta, a slice of the penance panel from Mallai and the somaskanda painting from Kanchi Kailasanthar.

For regular followers, you have already seen the traces of the pallava artist’s fantastic creation in the
Recreating a lost treasure

Let me first explain the location of these amazing paintings.

location
look+to+your+right

You have to twist a bit to enter between the pillars and peep into to your left. If you are lucky you will get to see the four places where the Somaskanda paintings are still visible. Sadly, the rest of the spaces are used as storage for…

sad

But this one is special. Peep inside the tavern while turning your head to the right.

somaskanda+plus
paintings

What looks like a portion of black and maroon, is actually a portion of the original Pallava painting that would have adorned the whole side wall.

kinnara+couple

We step in closer to view the fantastic Kinnara couple. Notice the lovely lady playing a reed flute, the clawed feet and the style of the wings.

closeup+couple
lady+playing+flute+admirer

Now lets take a look at the Mallai Penance Panel

notice+the+claws+feet
notice+the+wings
winged+kinnara

do you notice the similarity between the two couples - the clawed feet and the wings?

Now, both the locations we saw are from the Pallava school. But if i were to tell you that a similar creature is there in Ajanta as well, and that you have seen it so many times without registering it, would you believe me?

Yes, here we go

( photo & line drawing credits - An Album of Eighty-five Reproductions in Colour, Editor: A.Ghosh; Published by Archaeological Survey of India)

Bodisattva
bodhisattva+sketch
notice+top+left

Found them ?

in+line+drawing
the+ajanta+in+color

Truly art knew and knows no borders nor boundaries.

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“He who paints waves, flames, smoke and streamers fluttering in the air, according to the movement of the wind, should be considered a great painter.”

Vishnudharmottara , Ch 43 V 28

I heard this for the first time in a fantastic evening lecture by Sri Sivaramakrishnan, who teaches art students in the Government Fine Arts College, Chennai. Thanks to a lucky invite from Sri Swaminathan. It was a wonderful evening, seeing sculpture from an artist’s perspective. But the real treat was towards the end when he went into explaining a few masterpieces of art from Ajanta.

I have heard many friends who visit Ajanta, lured by the timeless masterpieces on display, yet do they really appreciate what is on display ?

long shot of the mural

This is where experts come into play. To illustrate this, ( thanks to Sri Sivaramakrishnan for allowing me to post this ) - i take one of the murals and try to showcase it to portray its true beauty. I didnt take any notes, so all the positives are attributable to him but if there are any mistakes, please pardon my poor memory.

This is what majority of the thousands of visitors streaming through Ajanta see. Sadly this is what is left of these wonderful creations, yet there is still something left in it for us to take it as a subject of our study and justify the title of this post. Can’t believe, ok, take a look again at the mural, focusing to the right of the screen. You can vaguely make out a dark colored lady.

long shot of the mural with the apsara

This is taken at the entrance to Cave 17, and the lady shown is the famous Black Apasara, a member of the troup that is descending to earth to worship the Buddha.

Lets zoom in and see her

closeup of the mural

Impressive - yes, but hang on to your comments!! Let me take on the task of communicating the greatness of this artwork from an art expert’s view.

Before that, let me take the help of artist friend Prasad to do a quick sketch to fully understand what is there in the painting ( this was a rough sketch by him )

prasad's rendition

There are certain key elements of this painting that we need to focus on

We take the first one. Chitrasutra section of Vishnudharmottara ( an ancient treatise on Painting) observes

Rekham prashansantyacharya
Varnadhyamitare janah

or simply ” the masters judge through the line”

eyes and the eye brows

For those of us who have read about Murals and frescos - or rather even tried our hand at simple brush painting, the simple yet splendid beauty of the above creation, executed with just a single smooth stroke of the brush held in the hands of the master artist , is mesmerizing.

Its not just the simple lines nor or they curved or straight lines - for there is subtle suggestion of a bulge of the eyeball and the roundness of the black circle.

Another verse..

Api laghu likhiteyam
drisyate purnamurith

meaning ” with the minimum of drawing almost the full form of the figure is represented”

Ok, i am not going to keep quoting these ancient texts, how does our master painter fare when we talk in contemporary terms ?

Most art classes would start with explaining perspectives - Linear perspective for example is projecting the three-dimensional world onto a two-dimensional surface.

Now, lets look at the earrings of our subject

the ear rings

You can see that the left ear ring is actually just two parallel lines - with a hint of curve on the bottom. Now view it in conjunction with the right ear ring - where you see the expert rendition - the oval lines gives you the perspective of the circular ornament.

I come back to the initial quote with which i started the post. Movement. Well consider this, the Apsara is descending when suddenly her attention is caught by the person next to her. You can see her eyes looking to her left. Her face is depicted just turning, but the piece de resistance are these.

sway of jewellery
the sway of the jewellery

Do you notice how the artist has masterly captured the life in the painting, movement of the sway of the hanging jewelery. When she is suddenly stopped, the lag in the jewelery is expertly observed and highlighted.

Even in that you can notice contemporary techniques - take foreshortening for instance - a technique used in perspective to create the illusion of an object receding into the background. See how the beads of the necklace nearer to the center of the chest are larger than those that are going over the shoulder.

Thus, you know that this was rendered by a great painter albeit the unknown painter of Ajanta.

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